Rittenberg: Rod Carey's whirlwind rise

DEKALB, Ill. -- Rod Carey's first decade in college coaching mirrored those of many others in the profession. The last three and a half months of his career might be unprecedented. One wild weekend certainly was.

Beginning in 1998, Carey made the gradual, typical climb up the coaching ladder, from graduate assistant (Minnesota) to Division III offensive coordinator (Wisconsin-Stout) to FCS offensive line coach (Illinois State, North Dakota) before reaching the FBS as Northern Illinois' line coach in 2010. He was smart, extremely organized and ambitious -- undoubtedly a future coordinator, quite possibly a future head coach, but a guy who "understood chain of command" and "never really stepped on toes," according to his former boss, Dave Doeren.

When Northern Illinois kicked off its season Sept. 1 against Iowa, Carey served as the team's offensive line coach and run game coordinator. When NIU plays Florida State on Jan. 1 in the Discover Orange Bowl, Carey will make his head-coaching debut in the biggest game in team history.

Click here for the rest of Adam Rittenberg's story.